Over-The-Counter Pain Medications And Hearing Loss

Woman taking pain killers and thinking about her hearing.

When you’re in pain, you might grab some aspirin or ibuprofen without thinking much about it, but new research has demonstrated risks you need to recognize.

You’ll want to look at the risks to your hearing that many over-the-counter and prescription pain medication carry before you decide to use them. Astonishingly, younger men might be at greater risk.

Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss – What The Research Says

Esteemed universities, like Vanderbilt, Harvard, and Brigham Young, performed a thorough 30 year study. A bi-yearly survey was sent to 27,000 individuals between the age of 40 and 74 which included lifestyle and health questions.

Because the questionnaire was so diverse, researchers were unsure of what they would discover. After analyzing the data, they were surprised to find a solid connection between hearing loss and over-the-counter pain relievers.

They also faced a more startling realization. Men 50 or younger were approximately two times as likely to have hearing loss if they routinely used acetaminophen. The chance of initiating hearing loss is 50/50 for people who use aspirin frequently. And those who used NSAIDs (naproxen, ibuprofen) had a 61% chance of getting permanent hearing loss.

Another unexpected thing that was discovered was that high doses used occasionally were not as harmful for your hearing as low doses taken frequently.

We can’t be certain that the pain reliever actually caused this loss of hearing even though we can see a distinct correlation. Causation can only be demonstrated with further study. But we really should reconsider our use of these pain relievers after these persuasive findings.

Current Theories About The Connection Between Hearing Loss And Pain Relievers

Experts have numerous possible theories as to why pain relievers could cause hearing impairment.

When you experience pain, your nerves convey this feeling to the brain. Over-the-counter pain relievers work by reducing blood flow to particular nerves. This impedes nerve signals that usually communicate with the brain, so you feel a reduced pain level.

There might also be a decrease of blood flow to the inner ear according to researchers. This blood brings vital oxygen and nutrients. When the flow is reduced for extended time periods, cells become malnourished and die.

Acetaminophen, which showed the most appreciable link, may also reduce the generation of a particular protein that helps shield the inner ear from loud noises.

What You Can do?

Probably the most significant point to consider is that men under 50 were more likely to suffer hearing impairment from pain relievers. This confirms that hearing loss doesn’t just impact the elderly. But as you get older, if you take the proper steps you will have a better chance of protecting your hearing.

While it’s important to note that taking these pain relievers can have some adverse repercussions, that doesn’t mean you need to entirely stop using them. Take pain relievers as prescribed and reduce how often you use them if possible.

Try to find other pain relief solutions, including light exercise. It would also be a good idea to boost the Omega-3 fat in your diet and reduce foods that cause inflammation. Decreased pain and improved blood flow have been shown to come from these practices.

And finally, schedule an appointment with us for a hearing exam. Keep in mind, you’re never too young to get your hearing tested. If you’re under 50, now is the time to start speaking with us about eliminating further hearing loss.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.